The Indiana Medical Licensing Board voted last week to bar a 79-year-old retired doctor from ever practicing in the state again after genetics searches on ancestry sites found he had illegitimately fathered dozens of children whose mothers he had artificially inseminated with his own sperm. In each case, he reportedly told the couples he was using sperm from a suitable donor, the father, or a combination of the two.
Investigators confirmed Donald Cline was the biological father of two women, and sites such as 23andMe have since found another three dozen of their half-siblings, who were fathered by him in the 1970s and 80s. According to reports, he could have fathered as many as 50 people. In some cases, the patients were aware they were receiving a donor’s sperm, in other cases, they thought they were using sperm from their partners.
Retired in 2009, Cline pleaded guilty last year to two counts of obstruction of justice. He acknowledged he lied to prosecutors when he denied using his own sperm and was given a one-year suspended sentence, which means he didn’t spend any time in jail and will not be on probation. No other charges were filed because there are no state laws prohibiting doctors from using their own sperm. In 1992, an infertility specialist in Virginia was convicted on more than 50 counts of fraud and perjury for artificially inseminating women with his sperm, but state laws vary between the two.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that about 6 percent of women are unable to get pregnant naturally after a year of trying, and 12 percent will have difficulties getting pregnant or carrying a child to full term. From 2011 to 2015, as many as 12 percent of women reported having used infertility services such as artificial insemination, which is when a doctor inserts sperm directly into a woman’s cervix, fallopian tubes, or, most commonly, her uterus in a process called intrauterine insemination. Couples often turn to artificial insemination when a male either has a low sperm count or sperm that isn’t strong enough to swim through the cervix and into the fallopian tubes, or when a woman has an abnormality in her reproductive organs, such as endometriosis or a tipped uterus.
[H/T: The Associated Press]